Worker's Compensation: What It Is and How It Works

Were you injured on the job? If so, you may be eligible for a worker’s compensation  claim. Worker's compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides compensation to workers who suffer job-related illnesses and injuries. Each state has its own laws and boards that control worker's comp. You should review the specific workers comp laws of your state to get a better understanding of the specific protection and benefits you may receive.

In general, an employee who suffers a work-related injury or illness can get compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault. In exchange for these guaranteed benefits, the employee forfeits the right to pursue litigation against the employer for damages as a result of those injuries. Worker’s comp claims cover most, but not all, on-the-job injuries. Coverage is denied for injuries that occur because an employee is intoxicated or using illegal drugs. Other situations that are not covered by worker’s compensation include:

  • Injuries that are self-inflicted (including those caused by an employee starting a fight).
  • Injuries suffered while not on the job.
  • Injuries suffered while an employee was committing a serious crime.
  • Injuries suffered when the employee's conduct violated company policy.

Worker’s comp claims pay medical expenses that are necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of your injury. In addition to this, benefits include rehabilitation expenses and disability coverage that provides compensation for lost wages. If you are a dependent family member of an employee who was killed on the job, workers' compensation may entitle you to death benefits. Coverage for medical care varies by state, but generally, things such as doctor visits, medical bills, and surgeries are covered.

Worker's compensation also includes disability benefits. Disability falls into four general categories:

  • Temporary total disability: This is a disability that temporarily prevents you from working at all.
  • Temporary partial disability: Prevents you from performing some of the duties of your job for a short period of time.
  • Permanent total disability: Prevents you from ever being able to return to work.
  • Permanent partial disability: Occurs when there is permanent damage but your ability to perform job duties is only partially hindered.

Benefits you receive will be based on what you were earning prior to your injury. Compensation is typically two-thirds of what your wages were.